walking streets- la dolce vita

with cobbled streets named via del bacio, via dell'amore and vic della fortuna i couldn't pick just one. roughly translated, these streets are named "kiss", "love" and "fortune or luck". can't miss, right? pienza, italy. it may be the most beautiful village i've ever laid eyes on. it's a tiny little gem and the whole town is walkable in about an hour but you really need to take in all it has to offer. so take your time, wander in and out of the precious shops, stop for an espresso or apperitivo. enjoy the unmatched view of the val d'orcia. this is a place where you can just be.
years back i'd read about pienza while i was in italy. it sounded too beautiful for words so on our drive from rome to florence we took a very small detour to see what all the fuss was about. that was all it took, just a small taste, a quiet afternoon, and i knew i must come back and spend time in this magical place.

fast forward and years later. pienza, i feel like i could live here and never look back.
my pienza picks.

stay: stunningly gorgeous la bandita townhouse. a 15th century former convent transformed into a warm and light-filled space. with only 12 rooms this boutique hotel leaves you feeling as if you're staying at a friend's house which is exactly how owner john voightmann and his wife ondine want you to feel.

eat: la bandita townhouse caffe, using only the freshest of the fresh local ingredients, makes it a bit difficult to leave the hotel as the meals were as gorgeous as the grounds. that being said there are wonderful little mom and pop places hidden in the nooks and crannies around pienza serving among other things, the most incredible salami and pecorino cheese which the area is famous for. as well, at some point or another during the afternoon or evening, and sometimes twice, we found ourselves at gelateria toscana. i've since found out that it wasn't quite the secret spot we'd thought we had discovered as people come from far and wide just to have a cone of pure decadence. my personal favorite was the cocco!
shop: if you're looking for leather goods, bottega artigiana del cuoio pienza is a real find. owner and been there forever valerio truffelli makes exquisite wallets, belts and bags among other things. you can choose from his just made stock pieces but time allowing he will make to order the piece of your dreams. not to be missed artisan shops are those selling local pecorino cheese. a very nice one is marusco & maria, corso il rossellino, 19, who sell pecorino cheeses sealed for packing, plus locally made honeys, jams and herbs. being mad for tuscan ceramics, i browsed the few shops around town and though i'm waiting for the perfect design before i buy, these shops gave me some serious food for thought.

see: besides the views, the duomo of pienza. mouth dropping and awe inspiring. this cathedral is also known as the "temple of glass" due to the extraordinary light streaming in though its expansive windows.
day trips: not to miss bagno vignoni for its hot springs, and well worth the drive the villages of montalcino, montepulciano and sienna. all impossibly beautiful with each bringing their own particular charm to the party.

the only thing i have to add to this love letter to pienza is that if you have the opportunity..... go, just go.



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